I’m a bit of a fan of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and its cheeky tone. Each time I read it, I get more curious to read the kind of gothic novels that Austen was mocking in this book.
The Mysteries of Udolopho is one of two novels talked about a lot in Northanger Abbey, so I thought I’d start there. Well…
It’s worth admitting that I’d forgotten how very long many of the books in this period were. Often this is because they start a generation back, with the early life of the protagonists parents. Not so with Udolpho. It dedicates only a page or two to describing the father’s life and moves right into Emily’s life.
What it does dedicate a lot of time to is detail. Lots and lots (and lots) of detail. When Emily and her father go on a trip we get quite a few pages of them being here, then there and then moving on to the next town. Of course, this period is important – though not worth taking close to 1/6th of the work – because it’s on this trip we meet the love interest and the father ails, but I’ll admit I started to skip read.
My hope is that when we get to the castle of Udolpho (I’m almost there) then it’ll pick up a bit. There is certainly an awful lot more story to get through!
Reading a book that was a major hit in its day and finding how different from modern tastes it is in form and structure, is fascinating.